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Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
WDC's Ed Fox, Chris Butler-Stroud and Carla Boreham take a message from the ocean to parliament

Taking a message from the ocean to parliament

It's a sad fact that whales and dolphins don't vote in human elections, but I...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Tokitae in captivity

Talking to TUI – will they stop supporting whale and dolphin captivity?

Last Thursday I travelled to Berlin for a long-anticipated meeting with TUI senior executives. I...

Earth Day Q&A with Waipapa Bay Wines’ marketing director, Fran Draper

We've been partnered with Waipapa Bay Wines since 2019 so for this year's Earth Day,...

Dolphin fossil holds the key to an evolutionary mystery!

Earlier this year when scientists discovered a whale graveyard in the Atacama region in Chile, we knew that we had embarked on exciting times in marine mammal science as our knowledge of extinct species and cetacean evolution was about to be radically expanded – what we didn’t realise at the time was just how rapidly that expansion would happen.

On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, researchers at Waseda University in Japan have determined that contrary to popular belief, dolphins have been around for twice as long as we had originally thought. By studying a fossil of a skull fragment from a dolphin, found in a Japanese river back in 1970, they were able to date dolphin origins all the way back to the late Miocene period some 8 to 13 million years ago.

This discovery has helped dispel one of the great mysteries of dolphin evolution as until now there has always been an inconsistency between the fossil records of dolphins (to date all have shown dolphins to have originated less than 6 million years ago) and molecular studies (which suggested that they actually originated between 9 and 12 million years ago). 

This new (or more correctly, old) species of dolphin has been named Eodelphis kabatensis – and it has the honour of being the earliest yet the latest dolphin species to be described to science.

The location of the fossil find is also important as although this work is in its infancy, and more specimens need to be discovered, the presence of Eodelphis in the Pacific Ocean suggests that dolphins may have had their origins in the Pacific. Then again … perhaps there are even older dolphin fossils out there somewhere just waiting to be discovered?

About Nicola Hodgins

Policy Manager at WDC